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EU President says Europe will continue to expand

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EU President says Europe will continue to expand

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When Portugal took on the Presidency of the European Union for the first time in 1992, Anibal Cavaco Silva was Prime Minister. There were 12 nations, so things were rather different. It was the Europe of Maastricht, a contraversial treaty but one which they succeeded in passing. Fifteen years later, Cavaco Silva has come to the European Parliament , and in the role of President, during the Portuguease presidency. He has come to ask the 27 nations to make an effort to unblock the constitutional Treaty.

During his visit, he explained to Euronews his views on the future of the European Union.

EURONEWS

“As President of Portugal, what are your views on the first few months of the Portuguese Presidency in the European Union?”

ANIBAL CAVACO SILVA

“Portugal is in the middle of doing its work, and trying to do so very seriously and efficiently. In the first months, Portugal headed the summit between the EU and Brazil, I think that this was a very important event, to construct a strategic partnership between the EU and Brazil, and to work on the launch of the Intergovernmental Conference for the revision of the Reform Treaty, at the same time as we are preparing summits with China, India, Russia, the Ukraine and also the EU/Africa Summit, which we hope to organise towards the end of our Presidency.”

EURONEWS

“Africa was indeed one of the priorities of the Portuguese Presidecy. What objectives can we hope for between now and the end of the year?”

CAVACO SILVA

“Africa must become a European priority. It is the right moment for Europe to consider Africa as a neighbouring continent, and to define a strategic relationship with this continent. Portugal considers this summit of great importance. China, Japan and other countries are busy having summits with Africa, Europe cannot ignore this partner, they have many things in common, in areas like security, energy, environment and the fight against terrorism. I think that Europe would have made a grave error if it had refused dialogue with Africa. The time has come to no longer talk about the problems of Africa, the time has come to start a dialogue with Africa.”

EURONEWS

“The French President Nicolas Sarkozy, is trying to muscle in on the international scene at the same time that Portugal is trying to successfully steer through a European Treaty which France, itself, partly, helped to bring down. What do you think of this French initiative.?”

CAVACO SILVA

“Portugal is very satisfied with the contribution of President Sarkozy in trying to unblock – how do you say this- the constitutional Treaty after the “no” vote in France and in the Netherlands. His contribution has been very positive, and I, who welcomed him in Lisbon, I know very well how much President Sarkozy is involved in trying to obtain an agreement for the final text of the Treaty during the summit which will take place in Lisbon in October.”

EURONEWS

“In this world of globalisation where one can observe the strong increase in fundamentalism,a constant which is not respected by the Human Rights laws in far away countries like Russia, what is the future of the European Union and of European values?”

CAVACO SILVA

“Europe can never forget the values of civilisation, like the international law of Human Rights, democracy, the right of law, and in the dialogue with other countries, it cannot stop itself from putting on the table the respect of law, even though it knows that in some parts of the world this is not respected. It would not be by turning our backs on these countries that the civilised values which Europe defends, would be respected. It is with dialogue, with political agendas where human rights are valued, for instance when we talk about the good management of governments and of the resources of countries where the state of law – I think that the values and principles of Europe are not in crisis, quite the contrary they are in the process of expanding more and more in the world.”

EURONEWS

“You said in your speech to Parliament that the gap between the rich and the poor is getting bigger and bigger. How can Europe put a stop to this tendency?”

CAVACO SILVA

“Solidarity must continue to be the mainstay of the European project, and Europe must maintain as one of its objectives, social cohesion, the fight against poverty and social exclusion, because a Europe which allows inequalities to worsen, in terms of the distribution of earnings, a Europe where profits are only for the few while the many become marginalised, and one group of citizens lives in conditions of social exclusion and poverty, that is a Europe which will not direct the attention of its citizens towards politics, and which will have problems avoiding political instability , and for this, in spite of the important role of each of the member states, the fight against poverty and social exclusion must absolutely be the aim of the whole of the European Union, an objective which we have adopted until now, and which I hope will continue.”

EURONEWS

“One last question. After the expansion of the European Union towards the east, and with Turkey knocking on the door, as well as the countries of North Africa who are close to the EU block, just how far do you think Europe will stretch?”

CAVACO SILVA

“That is the proof of the success of the European Union project. When Portugal became a member, there were just 12 countries, now we are 27. The majority of the problems inside the EU today are the consequence of its own success. Its capacity to attract other countrIes, you spoke about Turkey but we could also have mentioned Croatia, Bosnia Herzegovina and other countries, even other continents like Africa for instance, which look to Europe for a closer relationship. I think though that it is not the time to talk about the frontiers of Europe. The time has not come to discuss the frontiers of Europe.”